GOOD

London’s Creepy New Billboards Will Watch Bystanders And Show Ads Based On Their Age And Emotions

Apparently, no one needs to give their permission for this to take place.

London’s Piccadilly Circus has long been home to garish commercial signage that leaves tourists staring, but at the end of the month, the signs themselves will be staring back. A new video display called Picadilly Lights is 8,500 square feet in size and will detect the ages and even the emotions of nearby pedestrians to display more targeted and, hence, valuable advertisements to its passing audience.

The project is the work of Landsec, a U.K. commercial property manager, which seems nothing but proud of this Orwellian advertising concept. “Screen content can be influenced by the characteristics of the crowd around it, such as gender, age group, and even emotions,” says the company’s website. “It is also able to respond and deliver bespoke ad content triggered by surroundings in the area.”


The technology has been given the curious name “social listening” to belie the reality that companies are now surveilling people in public spaces to boost their bottom line. Similarly coy is a video touting the new installation, which gives no mention of the fact that those ambling by the site of the digital displays are being watched, monitored, and monetized.

A Landsec rep, speaking to The Verge, insisted that the installation won’t archive the personal data collected, which seems like a strange line to draw considering the data is being used in real-time to change the message. Perhaps even Landsec found the amassing of data for sale to be too unpalatable for its PR purposes.

Much as the cameras and computers will track people’s faces and emotions to broadcast ads, they will also monitor the auto traffic in the area, tailoring messages to the type of cars that happen to be driving by at any given moment. The Landsec installation will also provide complimentary Wi-Fi for those in the area, though whatever strings will ultimately be attached to that proposition are being kept quiet at the moment.

Beyond the unnerving principles underlying this business model, the display screens are impressive from a technological standpoint, the largest of their kind offering 281 trillion colors over an area roughly equal to almost four tennis courts. Of course, that’s not the big takeaway among those concerned with privacy issues, as few are inclined to praise the very thing that’s staring at them without their consent.

Later this month, when the installation is activated, Coca-Cola, Samsung, L’Oreal, and Hyundai will all be renting space on the board.

Money
via Barry Schapiro / Twitter

The phrase "stay in your lane" is usually lobbed at celebrities who talk about politics on Twitter by people who disagree with them. People in the sports world will often get a "stick to sports" when they try to have an opinion that lies outside of the field of play.

Keep Reading
Culture

The Free the Nipple movement is trying to remove the stigma on women's breasts by making it culturally acceptable and legal for women to go topless in public. But it turns out, Free the Nipple might be fighting on the wrong front and should be focusing on freeing the nipple in a place you'd never expect. Your own home.

A woman in Utah is facing criminal charges for not wearing a shirt in her house, with prosecutors arguing that women's chests are culturally considered lewd.

Keep Reading

In August, the Recording Academy hired their first female CEO, Deborah Dugan. Ten days before the Grammys, Dugan was placed on administrative leave for misconduct allegations after a female employee said Dugan was "abusive" and created a "toxic and intolerable" work environment. However, Dugan says she was actually removed from her position for complaining to human resources about sexual harassment, pay disparities, and conflicts of interest in the award show's nomination process.

Just five days before the Grammys, Dugan filed a complaint with the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission, and her claims are many. Dugan says she was paid less than former CEO Neil Portnow. In 2018, Portnow received criticism for saying women need to "step up" when only two female acts won Grammys. Portnow decided to not renew his contract shortly after. Dugan says she was also asked to hire Portnow as a consultant for $750,000 a year, which she refused to do.

Keep Reading